CHRIST IN WINTER: Reflections on Faith from a Place of Winter for the Years of Winter… ©
Now that I am old, I don’t sweat the details, but I do pay attention to them.
There is a story of an old man on his death bed. He asks, “Is my wife here with me?” She assures him she is. “Are my children here with me.” Yes. “Are my grandchildren here with me.” Yes. “Are my friends here with me.” Yes. “Then why are the lights on in the kitchen?”
Our younger daughter, Kathleen, says she intends to tell that story at my funeral. I don’t blame her. It sums me up pretty well. Some people light a candle; I switch off the bulb.
I also turn off my car engine when I’m waiting in the drive-through. (Yes, that’s the frugal and mechanically correct thing to do; check out the research.) I have better things to do with my money than support the oil and utility companies. More importantly, every kilowatt of power I save and every gallon of gas I don’t use is one my grandchildren will have available to them. Every ounce of pollution I do not put into the air is one is one that will not add to climate change and the increasingly extreme winters and summers and tornadoes and hurricanes and floods.
One of the major points of integrity as we face the end of our own life is whether we care not only about the nature of the world we shall face on the other side of the grave but continue to care about the nature of this world.
Some years back I used to see a comic strip that featured a parrot. One day it was listening to the radio. A news program was detailing the extent of the destruction that would result from a nuclear war. The parrot said, “As long as they don’t touch the cracker factories.”
I’m afraid that’s the attitude of too many old people. “Hey, I’m going to die soon anyway, so I might as well do what I want with the world’s resources because I won’t be here to pay the piper when they run out, anyway.”
Even if you think the world will end soon, if that happens, I doubt that God will say “It was a good thing you used up everything while you had the chance.” I suspect God will ask, “How did you treat the good world I created for you? Did you respect it and take care of it, or did you use the end of the world as an excuse for not paying attention to the details?”
They say “the devil is in the details,” but so is God.
There is a story about Jesus of Nazareth healing a little girl everyone thought was dead. When she sat up, everyone in the whole neighborhood went around whooping and hollering and celebrating. But Jesus said, “Hey, give her something to eat. She’s got to be hungry by now.” Jesus turned death into life. You can’t get any bigger than that. But he paid attention to the little details, too.
So turn off the lights in the kitchen when I’m dying. It’s the last gift I can give the world.
John Robert McFarland
The “place of winter” mentioned in the title line is Iron Mountain, in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula [The UP], where life is defined by winter even in the summer! [This phrase is explained in the post for March 20, 2014.]
I tweet as yooper1721.